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February 2020 Issue
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Woman walks 150km Tararua double traverse

Maree Sandbrook traversed the S-K Valleys of the Tararuas in under 50 hours

When the sleep deprivation kicked in, so did the hallucinations.

Deep in the Tararuas, endurance tramper Maree Sandbrook started seeing some real oddities in the forest, including a seal, a child, a Jim Beam branded tree and a white wolf.

“I knew rationally that they weren’t there, but the longer I looked, the more real they became,” she said.

Sandbrook’s mission was to traverse the Tararua Range from Kaitoke to Putara – and then back again – in less than 50 hours. The route is known as the S-K.

The roughly 150km journey had never been done before, and the Wellington woman didn’t think she would be the first to do it, until she made it over the line with 13 minutes to spare.

“We all look for challenges we can achieve. If you front up to a marathon, you will have trained enough to make sure you achieve it,” she said.

“I wanted to do something there was a high likelihood of not completing – a challenge that was above and beyond.”

Sandbrook is no stranger to endurance tramps, having traversed the range in both directions before – although never in one trip.

To assist on Sandbrook’s attempt, friends walked different sections with her.

She did, however, carry all of her own gear, including warm clothing and safety gear.

After finishing her marathon walk, Sandbrook was unable to hold a conversation with her parents on the drive home, due to exhaustion.

When she got home, she took a shower, and fell asleep in the bath.

“A flatmate knocked on the door and woke me up, so I dragged myself into bed, woke up at 6am, had something to eat and then slept until 1pm – I was fully totalled,” she said.